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NIH Wastes Millions on Bizarre "Research"

Washington, D.C., (July 18th, 2011) – As the debt crisis looms, those looking to cut federal spending need look no further than the National Institutes of Health, which continues to dole out millions in taxpayer dollars to fund questionable “research,” according to a new budget review conducted by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).  Their six-month investigation of NIH grant applications based on publicly available information and tips from NIH employees uncovered more than half a billion in grant monies paid to researchers to conduct bizarre projects such as measuring the penis size of homosexual men and asking individuals to mail in their toenail clippings.

“We are not opposed to hard science.  However, our research offers example after example of widespread institutional waste at the NIH on behavioral research,” said Andrea Lafferty, President of TVC.  “While the White House and some in Congress raise the specter of cutting Social Security and Medicare, it is outrageous that the NIH continues to funnel huge amounts of taxpayer dollars for bizarre and politically correct ‘research’ to people who have made a career out of playing the federal grant game.”

NIH-funded projects include:

  • At least $9.4 million for a 10-year study that included a survey of gay men to determine average penis sizes, "...to better understand the real individual-level consequences of living in a penis-centered society."
  • $154,500 spent asking individuals to mail in their toenails in an effort to research how much toenail nicotine is present versus saliva swabbing, at a cost of $154.50 per batch of toenails.
  • $163,500 spent seeking to explain the “drug-using and sexual behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM) during a circuit party.”
  • $1.2 million spent since 2003 trying to find out if a mother rat, if given cocaine, will abandon her babies.

“The NIH grant-making process is the opposite of transparent,” continued Lafferty.  “Our research team, mining a labyrinth of thousands of applications designed to confound even the most experienced investigator, uncovered review panels approving sizable grants to members of that panel, regular grants to individual researchers and the biggest concentrations of grants going to NIH-favored causes.

“We call on the Obama Administration and Congress to enforce a moratorium on NIH grant-making while a special prosecutor or another impartial investigator conducts a full review of the NIH budget.”

TVC plans to release additional findings in the coming weeks on NIH’s practices.

Traditional Values Coalition is an interdenominational and multi-racial public policy organization speaking on behalf of 43,000 churches nationwide.